Genetically-engineered subunit vaccine against feline leukaemia virus: protective immune response in cats

Author(s): Marciani DJ, Kensil CR, Beltz GA, Hung CH, Cronier J, et al.


A recombinant retroviral subunit vaccine has been developed that successfully protects cats from infectious feline leukaemia virus (FeLV) challenge. The antigen used is a non-glycosylated protein derived from the envelope glycoprotein of FeLV subgroup A, expressed in Escherichia coli. This recombinant protein, rgp70D, includes the entire exterior envelope protein gp70, plus the first 34 amino acids from the transmembrane protein p15E. The vaccine consists of purified rgp70D absorbed on to aluminium hydroxide and used in conjunction with a novel saponin adjuvant. Cats immunized with this formulation developed a strong humoral immune response, including neutralizing and feline oncornavirus-associated cell membrane antigen antibodies. Vaccinated animals showed an anamnestic response upon intraperitoneal challenge with FeLV-A, and were protected from viral infection. In contrast, the control animals developed viraemia shortly after the challenge, which in most cases became chronic. Formulation of the same antigen with other widely used adjuvants elicited poor protective immune responses in cats.

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